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Portrait of the park

History of Parc national du Mont-Orford

In the 1920s, Dr. George Austin Bowen dreamed of creating a park around Mont Orford (the mountain overlooking the town of Magog). On April 8, 1938, this dream came true through the application of a law to create Parc national du Mont-Orford. It was the culmination of a regional effort. Twenty-seven municipalities in the area then agreed to acquire and cede the territory to the Québec government for the purpose of creating a park.

In the first years of its existence, a golf course and chalet were built, and the first mechanical lift was installed on the mountain. The ski lodge opened in 1943.

Youth and Music Canada, the group at the origin of the Orford Arts Centre, arrived in the 1950s.

In 1967, the Minister responsible for parks opened a road into the park, and created a campground on the shores of Lac Stukely. The government also conducted an ecological inventory of the territory, developed an education program and opened discovery trails. In 1975, the park grew from 41 to 58 km2 with the goal of better protecting white-tailed deer. At this time, Centre de villégiature Jouvence became part of the park.

In 1979, following public hearings, the park was officially designated a “recreation park”, an area where outdoor activities and the protection of the natural environment could coexist in harmony.

The Park’s Natural Heritage


Among the unusual phenomena found in the park, ophiolite is a major one! During the first phase of the development of the Appalachian Mountains, a piece of the ocean floor was preserved within the new mountain range being formed. This phenomenon is called: ophiolite. The Mont-Orford Massif includes two main fragments of the Orford-Chagnon ophiolitic complex.


The large rounded ridges interspersed with broad valleys and overseen by towering mountains so characteristic of the park are part of the Appalachian Mountains. The park’s highest peak is Mont Orford, which stands at an altitude of 853 metres. Two others, Pic de l'Ours (Mont Orford massif) and Mont Chauve, climb to 740 m and 600 m respectively.


The park is rich in wetlands and waterways. Among them is a fen (minerotrophic peatland), a very rare type of wetland in southern Québec. Two rivers (Rivière aux Cerises and Rivière aux Herbages) and several mountain streams cross the park. The majority of the ponds in the park were formed as a result of beaver dams.


Maple forests reign over three quarters of the park’s territory and are characterized by a wealth of flora. Other forest stands, such as birch and coniferous forests (balsam fir, red spruce), occupy smaller areas. Among the great diversity of the park’s forests are 4 exceptional forest ecosystems, including a boreal oak - sugar maple stand.


The wide variety of habitats in the park fosters diverse wildlife, including white-tailed deer, moose, beaver, coyote, river otter and several species of bats, amphibians and reptiles. It is also the location of choice for over 210 bird species that live here at one time or another during the year.

Species at Risk

Parc national du Mont-Orford is home to several plant and animal species at risk. Among them are the:

  • Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum)
  • Pickerel frog (Rana palustris)
  • Northern spring salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)
  • Wild leek (Allium tricoccum)
  • American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
  • Large round leaf orchid (Platanthera macrophylla)

The Cultural Heritage of the Park

First Occupants

Little is known about the occupation of the Parc national du Mont-Orford area before the arrival of the Europeans in North America. Settlement did not begin until after the American War of Independence in the area that would become the Eastern Townships.


For many years, the Township of Orford was almost uninhabited, despite the construction in 1810 of Boston Road, a coach route from Québec City to Boston. The colonization movement revived a little after 1820. The government of Lower Canada counted on British immigration to populate the Eastern Townships region.

Land Use

Before the park was created, the area was used mainly for forestry and agriculture. Some remains of houses dating back to the first phase of expropriation in 1938 can still be seen.

Did you know?

The Park in Numbers

Year established: 1938
Area: 59,5 km2
Perimeter: 80 km
Annual attendance: 440,000 visit-days

Lists of Species

(in French only)

Amphibians and reptiles

Species at risk



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